13September,2003

Voters lukewarm on Carr to Canberra

The Carr for Canberra supporters could take heart from this group, as there is significant potential there for a Labor gain.

With Labor polling around 40 per cent in NSW, it suggests the federal ALP might increase its vote by up to 13 percentage points.

However, this cannot be taken for granted.

Pollster John Stirton said yesterday: 'Whether Bob Carr's enormous popularity can actually be converted to votes at the federal level is uncertain. The evidence in this poll shows that it could be a struggle.'



I should really have called this post 'How to spin a poll'. You have to read as far as paragraph 9 before you discover that a Carr shift could raise the federal Labor vote from 40% to 53%. I do not have access to a Mackerras electoral pendulum but a 53% two-party preferred vote sounds to me like a Carr landslide. If they're talking about a primary vote of 53% the seat of Bennelong (sitting MHR, one John Howard) is likely to go Labor. It is only an NSW poll so we do not know what the Carr effect would be in other states.

Why then, do we get the silly headline about lukewarm voters? According to these figures the electorate, in NSW at least, is red-hot for Carr.

The Werther Solution: A Modest Proposal, September 11, 2003

As the administration's Iraq 'policy' careens out of control like a car stolen by joy-riding teenagers, critics are confronted with the inevitable retort: 'But what would you do? Be constructive!' In truth, this rejoinder is a red herring: people who had no role in creating this mess have no moral 'responsibility' for solving it; the authors of the mess have. And to the extent one accepts responsibility for rescuing the situation, one implicitly believes that one actually has a role in governing this erstwhile republic. In reality, the neo-con-artists, Big Oil plutocrats, and 'defense' contractors will not release their iron grip on U.S. foreign policy until their avaricious hearts cease to beat.


Go read. Plus check out the link to the closed contracts in Iraq.

Link thanks to Whiskey Bar

How we trained al-Qa�eda

Yet America's role in backing the mujahedin a second time in the early and mid-1990s is seldom mentioned - largely because very few people know about it, and those who do find it prudent to pretend that it never happened. Following the Russian withdrawal from Afghanistan in 1989 and the collapse of their puppet regime in 1992, the Afghan mujahedin became less important to the United States; many Arabs, in the words of the journalist James Buchan, were left stranded in Afghanistan 'with a taste for fighting but no cause'. It was not long before some were provided with a new cause. From 1992 to 1995, the Pentagon assisted with the movement of thousands of mujahedin and other Islamic elements from Central Asia into Europe, to fight alongside Bosnian Muslims against the Serbs.

The Bosnia venture appears to have been very important to the rise of mujahedin forces, to the emergence of today%u2019s cross-border Islamic terrorists who think nothing of moving from state to state in the search of outlets for their jihadist mission. In moving to Bosnia, Islamic fighters were transported from the ghettos of Afghanistan and the Middle East into Europe; from an outdated battleground of the Cold War to the major world conflict of the day; from being yesterday%u2019s men to fighting alongside the West%u2019s favoured side in the clash of the Balkans. If Western intervention in Afghanistan created the mujahedin, Western intervention in Bosnia appears to have globalised it.

As part of the Dutch government%u2019s inquiry into the Srebrenica massacre of July 1995, Professor Cees Wiebes of Amsterdam University compiled a report entitled %u2018Intelligence and the War in Bosnia%u2019, published in April 2002. In it he details the secret alliance between the Pentagon and radical Islamic groups from the Middle East, and their efforts to assist Bosnia%u2019s Muslims. By 1993, there was a vast amount of weapons- smuggling through Croatia to the Muslims, organised by 'clandestine agencies' of the USA, Turkey and Iran, in association with a range of Islamic groups that included Afghan mujahedin and the pro-Iranian Hezbollah. Arms bought by Iran and Turkey with the financial backing of Saudi Arabia were airlifted from the Middle East to Bosnia - airlifts with which, Wiebes points out, the USA was 'very closely involved'.



I think the blowback theory is sufficiently established for this report, in a conservative UK journal, to be very interesting.

AM - Opposition continues questioning Govt on ONA reports

MATT BROWN: The Opposition's pursuit of this matter in Parliament may pause today, in deference to the solemnity of the second anniversary of the terrorist attacks in New York and Washington.

The Government is emphatic that it simply did not leak classified material to the journalist who wrote the article in question, Andrew Bolt, but Kevin Rudd claims their denials still leave plenty of room for wrongdoing.

KEVIN RUDD: I think they've left a gaping hole and that is whether some summary of Andrew Wilkie's original, highly classified ONA report was passed to Andrew Bolt, from which Mr Bolt then drew.

Mr Downer's language on this matter, I think, is particularly open-ended and let's see what the Federal Police investigation reveals.

MATT BROWN: The Federal Police were called in to investigate this matter more than two months ago and the Opposition argues that the Government should take the initiative and hand over all of the electric records of its contact with the outside world for the period in question.

The Government says the Federal Police will get any cooperation they request.

LINDA MOTTRAM: Matt Brown, reporting from Canberra, and Alexander Downer's office says the police will look at exactly who had the document.

The Minister's office says Mr Downer and the Prime Minister have sought assurances from their staff that no leaking of classified material has occurred and those assurances, they say, have been given. And the Government says all staff will be expected to fully cooperate with the police investigation.



Let's see. Right now we have:

  • the JIC report the prime minister has not read (the dodged dossier perhaps?)
  • the ONA secret report Andrew Bolt has not read
  • a police investigation into how Andrew Bolt quoted from the report he has not read
  • the customary denial that ministerial staff could possibly be responsible for Andrew Bolt being able to quote, verbatim according to his own article, from the secret report he has not read

    I would make some nasty crack about fairies at the bottom of Howard's garden but no self-respecting fairy would be seen dead in that location.

  • Spy chiefs forced to explain suppressing of war dissent

    Two intelligence chiefs will emerge from the shadows on Monday to face public scrutiny for the first time. They will discuss their decision to suppress dissent among senior staff about the notorious Iraq arms dossier.

    Air Marshal Sir Joe French, former chief of Defence Intelligence, and his deputy Tony Cragg, will be obliged to explain their action - or lack of it - after they received letters of complaint about how the document was being drafted.

    They were ordered to appear as witnesses on the first day of the next phase of the Hutton inquiry. The inquiry has exposed flaws in the Government's case for war while investigating the circumstances leading to the alleged suicide of the weapons expert David Kelly.

    Brian Jones, head of the scientific wing of the Defence Intelligence Analysis Staff, and a colleague described as the country's foremost authority on chemical warfare, told the inquiry that they were so concerned about the veracity of the evidence being put into the September dossier that they sent a detailed series of corrections to Mr Cragg.

    Security sources said yesterday that the evidence of Air Marshal French and Mr Cragg would be 'highly problematic' for the Government.

    One official said: 'The fact remains that Brian Jones is a highly respected man and his views should have been taken into account. This was not just splitting hairs, it is very real concern being ignored. One of the complaints levied against David Kelly was that he made his criticism of the '45 minutes' thing through unofficial means - a journalist. Well Dr Jones and his colleague stuck to the official channels and that got them nowhere. Lord Hutton would want to know why that happened, and especially if there was political pressure.'

    Seven senior members of the Cabinet were shown the intelligence assessment which warned that invading Iraq would increase the threat of a terrorist attack on Britain.



    There's something else that Kelly could have done. He could, like Andrew Wilkie, have acted on his conscience by openly and honestly resigning and stating in public his objections to the dossier.

    No democratic government on Earth would ever have set the attack dogs on him for doing so. Would they? Surely not?

    Australia was told: war will fuel terror

    Intelligence given to Australia before the Iraq War warned that the terrorist threat would increase if military action was launched against Saddam Hussein, contradicting repeated assertions by the Prime Minister.

    The revelation - disclosed after a British parliamentary committee released details of a top-secret assessment by British intelligence chiefs - raises new questions about whether the public was deliberately misled in the lead-up to the conflict.

    Handed to the Blair Government on February 10, six weeks before the war started, the assessment by the high-level Joint Intelligence Committee debunked several of the key arguments used by the 'coalition of the willing' to justify going to war against Iraq.

    'The JIC assessed that al-Qaeda and associated groups continued to represent by far the greatest terrorist threat to western interests, and that threat would be heightened by military action against Iraq,' the British parliamentary report says.

    The JIC report, International Terrorism: War with Iraq, also said there was no evidence Saddam Hussein wanted to use any chemical or biological weapons in terrorist attacks or that he planned to pass them on to al-Qaeda. 'However, it judged that in the event of imminent regime collapse there would be a risk of transfer of such material, whether or not as a deliberate regime policy.'

    Under an intelligence-sharing arrangement, Australia receives JIC reports. Mr Howard's refused to confirm that Australian authorities had received the February 10 report, declining to answer verbal or written questions on the issue. But the former senior Office of National Assessments analyst who who quit in protest over the war, Andrew Wilkie, said the ONA 'routinely received JIC assessments and would have received that assessment'. The ONA reports directly to the Prime Minister's office.

    Moreover, Mr Wilkie said, its contents were consistent with the view of ONA analysts. 'Because of material like that, and ONA's own work, it was clearly understood there would be an increasing risk of terrorism if Iraq was invaded and this risk was communicated to the Government,' he said.

    However, in an address to the nation on the eve of the war, Mr Howard said the exact opposite: 'Far from our action in Iraq increasing the terrorist threat, it will, by stopping the spread of chemical and biological weapons, make it less likely that a devastating terrorist attack will be carried out against Australia.' It was a stand he and his ministers often repeated in the weeks leading up to the war.



    I predict a couple of problems here:


    1. the Howard government may claim not to have received the report;
    2. the Howard government may claim to have received the report but that no-one told the prime minister
    3. the Howard government may claim to have intelligence that the report was wrong
    4. the Howard government may claim to have received the report and that the prime minister was told but decided to mislead the parliament on a question of war and peace


    I doubt Option 1 has legs. The Blair government is unlikely to support that view and surely the ALP can organise a question in the House of Commons seeking to know if the JIC report was passed onto Australia? The suggestion that Britain would withhold such intelligence is not going to make Anglo-Australian diplomacy all that healthy.

    Option 2 seems the most likely course, although I think it will accelerate the erosion in Howard's credibility and that has to become a major issue fairly soon.

    Option 3 is a small chance, but anything that restarts the intelligence debate is not good news for the government.

    Option 4 may be the truth but I'd be more than mildly surprised if the Howard government elected to pursue this course.

    A minister who misleads the parliament must resign. If the prime minister mislead the parliament on a question of war and peace his time in office will be quite short.

    Walter Bagehot, in the classic definition of cabinet government, wrote:

    But if in these ways, and subject to these exceptions, Parliament by its policy and its speech well embodies and expresses public opinion, I own I think it must be conceded that it is not equally successful in elevating public opinion. The teaching task of Parliament is the task it does worst. Probably at this moment it is natural to exaggerate this defect. The greatest teacher of all in Parliament, the headmaster of the nation, the great elevator of the country�so far as Parliament elevates it�must be the Prime Minister; he has an influence, an authority, a facility in giving a great tone to discussion, or a mean tone, which no other man has. Now Lord Palmerston for many years steadily applied his mind to giving, not indeed a mean tone, but a light tone, to the proceedings of Parliament. One of his greatest admirers has since his death told a story of which he scarcely sees, or seems to see, the full effect. When Lord Palmerston was first made leader of the House, his jaunty manner was not at all popular, and some predicted failure. �No,� said an old member, �he will soon educate us down to his level; the House will soon prefer this Ha! Ha! style to the wit of Canning and the gravity of Peel.� I am afraid that we must own that the prophecy was accomplished. No prime minister, so popular and so influential, has ever left in the public memory so little noble teaching. Twenty years hence, when men inquire as to the then fading memory of Palmerston, we shall be able to point to no great truth which he taught, no great distinct policy he embodied, no noble words which once fascinated his age, and which, in after years, men would not willingly let die. But we shall be able to say �he had a genial manner, a firm, sound sense; he had a kind of cant of insincerity, but we always knew what he meant; he had the brain of a ruler in the clothes of a man of fashion.� Posterity


    Unless the British did not give us the JIC report, the prime minister is now in grave ethical difficulty. Claiming that his staff did not give him the JIC report is not going to get him out of that difficulty. The mean tone has its limits as a political strategy.

    Australia was told: war will fuel terror

    Intelligence given to Australia before the Iraq War warned that the terrorist threat would increase if military action was launched against Saddam Hussein, contradicting repeated assertions by the Prime Minister.

    The revelation - disclosed after a British parliamentary committee released details of a top-secret assessment by British intelligence chiefs - raises new questions about whether the public was deliberately misled in the lead-up to the conflict.

    Handed to the Blair Government on February 10, six weeks before the war started, the assessment by the high-level Joint Intelligence Committee debunked several of the key arguments used by the 'coalition of the willing' to justify going to war against Iraq.

    'The JIC assessed that al-Qaeda and associated groups continued to represent by far the greatest terrorist threat to western interests, and that threat would be heightened by military action against Iraq,' the British parliamentary report says.

    The JIC report, International Terrorism: War with Iraq, also said there was no evidence Saddam Hussein wanted to use any chemical or biological weapons in terrorist attacks or that he planned to pass them on to al-Qaeda. 'However, it judged that in the event of imminent regime collapse there would be a risk of transfer of such material, whether or not as a deliberate regime policy.'

    Under an intelligence-sharing arrangement, Australia receives JIC reports. Mr Howard's refused to confirm that Australian authorities had received the February 10 report, declining to answer verbal or written questions on the issue. But the former senior Office of National Assessments analyst who who quit in protest over the war, Andrew Wilkie, said the ONA 'routinely received JIC assessments and would have received that assessment'. The ONA reports directly to the Prime Minister's office.

    Moreover, Mr Wilkie said, its contents were consistent with the view of ONA analysts. 'Because of material like that, and ONA's own work, it was clearly understood there would be an increasing risk of terrorism if Iraq was invaded and this risk was communicated to the Government,' he said.

    However, in an address to the nation on the eve of the war, Mr Howard said the exact opposite: 'Far from our action in Iraq increasing the terrorist threat, it will, by stopping the spread of chemical and biological weapons, make it less likely that a devastating terrorist attack will be carried out against Australia.' It was a stand he and his ministers often repeated in the weeks leading up to the war.



    I predict a couple of problems here:


    1. the Howard government may claim not to have received the report;
    2. the Howard government may claim to have received the report but that no-one told the prime minister
    3. the Howard government may claim to have intleligence that the report was wrong


    the Blair government is unlikely to support that view and surely the ALP can organise a question in the house of commons if the Ho

    12September,2003

    Blair's war: PM ignored intelligence advice on Iraq

    Another of Tony Blair's main justifications for war on Iraq was blown apart yesterday by the disclosure that intelligence chiefs had warned that deposing Saddam Hussein would increase the risk of terror attacks on Britain.

    The Prime Minister told Parliament and the public earlier this year that the West had to act against Baghdad to prevent chemical and biological weapons from falling into the hands of terrorists.

    But exactly two years after al-Qa'ida's 11 September attack, a committee of MPs revealed that the Mr Blair had been told that the threat from Osama bin Laden 'would be heightened by military action against Iraq'. The Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC), chaired by the Labour MP Ann Taylor, also criticised the Government's dossier on the Iraqi threat, concluding that key claims should have been omitted or heavily qualified.

    The ISC's report put further pressure on Geoff Hoon, the Secretary of State for Defence, accusing him of giving 'unhelpful and potentially misleading evidence' on the extent of dissent within the MoD about the dossier.

    But the political spotlight switched firmly to Mr Blair himself after the ISC revealed for the first time details of a briefing he received from intelligence chiefs in the run-up to the war.

    As MPs prepared to vote on the war on 18 March, he even said that links between Iraq and al-Qa'ida were hardening. 'The possibility of the two coming together, of terrorists groups in possession of a weapon of mass destruction or even a so-called dirty radiological bomb - is now in my judgement a real and present danger to Britain and its national security,' he said.

    Yet just over five weeks before the American-led invasion of Iraq, Mr Blair was told secretly by the Joint Intelligence Committee (JIC) that there was no evidence of any link between Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden. Crucially, the JIC 'assessed that al-Qa'ida and associated groups continued to represent by far the greatest terrorist threat to Western interests and that threat would be heightened by military action'.



    Tony Blair should get some decent staffers in his private office. John Howard could lend him some. The very idea that intelligence agencies admit ever briefing a prime minister is subversive.

    Exploiting the Atrocity

    Now it has all gone wrong. The deficit is about to go above half a trillion dollars, the economy is still losing jobs, the triumph in Iraq has turned to dust and ashes, and Mr. Bush's poll numbers are at or below their pre-9/11 levels.

    Nor can the members of this administration simply lose like gentlemen. For one thing, that's not how they operate. Furthermore, everything suggests that there are major scandals - involving energy policy, environmental policy, Iraq contracts and cooked intelligence - that would burst into the light of day if the current management lost its grip on power. So these people must win, at any cost.

    The result, clearly, will be an ugly, bitter campaign - probably the nastiest of modern American history. Four months ago it seemed that the 2004 campaign would be all slow-mo films of Mr. Bush in his flight suit. But at this point, it's likely to be pictures of Howard Dean or Wesley Clark that morph into Saddam Hussein. And Donald Rumsfeld has already rolled out the stab-in-the-back argument: if you criticize the administration, you're lending aid and comfort to the enemy.

    This political ugliness will take its toll on policy, too. The administration's infallibility complex - its inability to admit ever making a mistake - will get even worse. And I disagree with those who think the administration can claim infallibility even while practicing policy flexibility: on major issues, such as taxes or Iraq, any sensible policy would too obviously be an implicit admission that previous policies had failed.

    In other words, if you thought the last two years were bad, just wait: it's about to get worse. A lot worse.



    Yikes...

    The Philadelphia Daily News - The People Paper

    6. Why did the NORAD air defense network fail to intercept the four hijacked jets?

    During the depths of the Cold War, Americans went to bed with the somewhat reassuring belief that jet fighters would intercept anyone launching a first strike against the United States. That myth was shattered on 9/11, when four hijacked-jetliners-turned-into-deadly-missiles cruised the American skies with impunity for nearly two hours.

    Why did the North American Aerospace Defense Command seem unaware of literally dozens of warnings that hijacked jetliners could be used as weapons? Why does NORAD claim it did not learn that Flight 11 - the first jet to strike the World Trade Center about 8:45 a.m. - had been hijacked until 8:40 a.m., some 25 minutes after the transponder was shut off and an astounding 15 minutes after flight controllers heard a hijacker say, "We have some planes..."?

    Why didn't the fighters that were finally scrambled at Otis Air Force Base in Massachusetts and Langley Air Force Base in Virginia fly at top, supersonic speeds? Why didn't fighters immediately take off from Andrews Air Force Base, just outside Washington, D.C.? Why was nothing done to intercept American Airlines Flight 77, which struck the Pentagon, when officials knew it had been had been hijacked some 47 minutes earlier?

    And why has no one been disciplined for the worst breakdown in national defense since Pearl Harbor?

    7. Why did President Bush continue reading a story to Florida grade-schoolers for nearly a half-hour during the worst attack on America in its history?

    In arguably the greatest understatement in U.S. history, Bush told a questioner at a California town-hall meeting in January 2002 that 9/11 'was an interesting day.' Interesting, indeed. In the two years since the attacks, questions have only grown about the president's bizarre behavior that morning, when he was informed in a Sarasota classroom that America was under attack.

    'I couldn't stop watching the president sitting there, listening to second-graders, while my husband was burning in a building,' World Trade Center widow Lorie van Auken, a leader of relatives of Sept. 11 victims who have raised questions about the attacks, told Gail Sheehy in the New York Observer.

    Why did Bush read a children's story about a pet goat and stay in the classroom for more than a half-hour after the first plane struck the World Trade Center and roughly 15 minutes after Chief of Staff Andrew Card told him that it had been a deliberate attack? Why didn't he take more decisive action, and why wasn't he hustled to a secure area while the attacks were clearly still under way?

    Conspiracy advocates have cited these strange lapses as evidence that Bush knew about the attacks ahead of time, but why would anyone with advance knowledge appear so clueless?



    For the record I do not believe the Bush administration could conduct a conspiracy with any greater efficiency than they do other things. Given the choice between conspiracy and cock-up I'll go with the cock-up every time.

    Thanks to Seeing the Forest for the link.

    The truth about Iraq (or what Bush didn't dare say)

    If Mr Bush had been inclined to level with Americans, he would have said something along these lines:

    'My fellow Americans, weapons of mass destruction were not the cause of the Iraqi invasion, but the occasion. Even if Saddam did have WMDs - and there is no doubt he did have them at one time, and may again have acquired them if we had not gone in - there was no imminent threat. Our real aim, folks, was to kick ass and change souls.

    'But this is turning out to be far more difficult than we thought. Souls are pretty recalcitrant out there, and butts rather adamantine. Iraqis are happy to see Saddam go, but they are not deliriously happy we are there.

    'Unfortunately, we cannot just walk away from the mess. If we leave before stabilising the place, we would hand jihadists a bigger victory than they scored driving the Soviets out of Af- ghanistan. Iraq will become the mother of all terrorist incubators.

    'This is my three-fold plan. It is a realistic plan born of desperation.

    'One, I'll go to the UN to seek a new resolution placing Iraq under its political authority. It is the UN which should handle reconstruction, set a clear timetable for self-government, and chaperone the new Iraqi government to legitimacy. If we handle any of these ourselves, the new Iraqi government will be painted as anti-nationalist, and its leaders possibly assassinated, as Ayatollah Hakim was recently.

    'Two, we'll invite the UN to contribute a multinational force, but place that force under US command. If the French want this command, they can have it, but they will have to do the bulk of the fighting too. Since they won't, but we will, we will command. Politics - UN. Military - US.

    'Three, we can't ask our military to make sacrifices, and the world to cough up money for Iraqi reconstruction, while living like drunken sailors at home. I'll ask Congress to scrap all three Bush tax cut packages, keeping only what is necessary for immediate stimulus, but jettisoning anything that will contribute to long-term structural deficits. Asians will not finance our binges forever, and we must learn to pay our own way.'

    Mr Bush, of course, would never say any such thing. But sooner or later, America will have to accommodate itself to the truth, and there is little doubt the accommodation will have to run more or less along the lines of the speech Mr Bush dared not give.



    'nuff said...

















    11September,2003

    By Her Majesty's Command*

    We now have the report of the Intelligence and Security Committee in Britain. The ISC is made of MPs and peers appointed under the Intelligence Services Act 1984, S10 by the prime minister after consultation with the parliamentary parties. The ISC avows that, although the prime minister has the power to excise material, that has not been done. They have unlimited access to classified material. I think it's actually a good process that we could add to Australia's inspector-general of intelligence and security.

    From the BBC summary:

    The 45 minute claim

    The 45 minute claim, included four times in the dossier, was likely to attract attention because it was "arresting detail that the public had not seen before".

    "As the 45 minutes claim was new to its readers, the context of the intelligence and any assessment needed to be explained," the ISC report says.

    "The omission of the context and assessment allowed speculation as to its exact meeting. This was unhelpful to an understanding of this issue."

    September dossier

    A wide range of departments and agencies, including 10 Downing Street and the DIS, made comments on drafts of the dossier.

    The JIC chairman stated "unequivocally" that he "did not at any time feel under pressure, nor was he asked to include material that he did not believe ought to be included in the dossier".

    "We accept this assurance.

    "We are content that the JIC has not been subjected to political pressures and that its independence and impartiality has not been compromised in any way."

    Did dossier accurately reflect available intelligence?

    Saddam Hussein was not considered a current or imminent threat to mainland UK, but the dossier did not say so.

    ISC analysis of the Joint Intelligence Committee assessments showed the most likely chemical and biological munitions to be used against Western forces were battlefield weapons rather than strategic weapons: "This should have been highlighted in the dossier."

    The use of the phrase "continued to produce chemical and biological weapons" in the foreword to the dossier could give the impression that Saddam was actively producing both chemical and biological weapons and significant amounts of agents.

    The JIC did not know what had been produced and in what quantities.

    "We believe that this uncertainty should have been highlighted to give a balanced view of Saddam's chemical and biological capacity."

    Although Iraq possessed the technology to stabilise some agents, it was not known what type of chemical agents had been retained and consequently if they would still be effective.

    Previous conflicts had established that the Iraqis could use chemical and biological battlefield weapons rapidly.

    "The JIC did not know precisely which munitions could be deployed from where to where and the context of the intelligence was not included in the JIC assessment.

    "This omission was then reflected in the 24 September dossier."

    The Security and Intelligence Service continues to believe that the Iraqis were attempting to negotiate the purchase of uranium from Niger.

    "We have questioned them about the basis of their judgement and conclude that it was reasonable.



    The ISC also criticised UK Defence Secretary Geoff Hoon for not disclosing that intelligence officers had dissented from the conclusions in the two dossiers. More later.

    *Well I had to call this something that sounded a little cloak-and-daggerish.

    Global Rich List

    HOW RICH ARE YOU?

    Every year we gaze enviously at the lists of the richest people in world. Wondering what it would be like to have that sort of cash. But where would you sit on one of those lists? Here's your chance to find out.



    Read it and weep...

    C 9/11: A Nation In A Time Of Schlock

    1.) They repeat the bogus Air Force One threat from 9/11.

    2.) Bush immediately starts spouting off the warboy rhetoric. And has done so at least four times.

    3.) There's a vignette at the beginning where Don Rumsfeld is talking to a group of generals and congressmen about the threat of terrorism, pre-9/11. A meeting which appears to be totally fabricated.

    4.) Fox News, so far, has been the news network of choice on all the televisions.

    5.) People can't have an AWOL president!!

    6.) David Frum's kids were in Jewish day school! IDENTITY POLITICS!

    7.) Bush is just so brave! He's telling everyone what-for!

    8.) Way too much Brit Hume.

    9.) I keep expecting Condoleeza to secretly be plotting against the President in order to set off 9/11. Sort of a tone-deaf casting choice, if you ask me.

    10.) When did George W. Bush get bass in his voice?

    11.) 'The bigger the enemy, the greater the victory if they can keep me here and not there!' Yeah, because the point of 9/11 was to keep the President out of D.C., you idiot.

    12.) Dick Cheney is the most sniveling little bitch I've ever seen. 'Please take the safe route...'

    13.) Ooh...they just made a 'draining the swamp' reference.

    14.) This is just a really bad, really long episode of 24 with an even more unrealistic President than a black man from California.

    15.) Tinhorn terrorists? 'CALL ME COMMANDER IN CHIEF!' What a ballsy fucker.

    16.) God, God, God.



    I don't think Pandagon enjoyed the George Bush on 11 September movie very much. There's more and it's all worth reading.

    Security' has become the leitmotif for a new politics

    We should acknowledge that 'security' neatly matches one strand in old Labour, too often ignored by the nostalgists. How many party members - or trade unionists - wanted both a high-spending, security-providing welfare state, and were also anti-immigrant and vehemently rightwing on crime, even including support for the death penalty? Secure jobs, secure pensions, secure streets... the programme of extreme-right parties like the National Front in France is only a distorted caricature of the instincts of many Labour voters.

    But it is a caricature. So long as people think their government has a bit of a grip on things, everything can be held in check, and progressive politics moves forward. The danger starts when people feel their own state is powerless or out of touch. Whatever you think of New Labour in power, it is certainly not entirely ineffective: it runs a low-inflation, relatively successful economy and, as Gordon Brown reminded the TUC, Britain has lower unemployment rates than most competitors. At the macro-economic level, they do have a grip.

    Much of the developing Labour agenda for the next few years seems designed to reassure insecure voters that the government has a grip elsewhere. Blair now harps on about the asylum figures as they start to come down. Yet more prisons are being built. Blunkett is pushing for ID cards with the latest technology - expensive, controversial, but they would be a visible symbol of the state trying to take more control over an amorphous and hard-to-count population. Belatedly, the government has started to wake up to the huge damage done by collapsing pensions.

    The challenge for mainstream Labour supporters is pretty obvious. The politics of security is fundamentally reactionary. It is the politics of fear - fear of the outsider, fear of losing your job, fear of the people at the mosque down the road, fear of youths on the corner, fear of the European superstate, and fear of change. Any government which simply brushes fear aside as a force in politics is foolish. Fear is probably the strongest political force of all, even stronger than hope. But go very far in appeasing or reassuring fearful voters, and you become a reactionary government. So all those ministers coming back for the new session have to ask: how far do we go? When do popular initiatives to make Britain feel more secure become populist ones?

    Every issue is a little different and there is a lot of teaching to do: Trevor Phillips, the new boss of the commission for racial equality, hits a good note when he reminds audiences of just how much the NHS they rely on for a sense of security is propped up by Indian and Pakistani doctors, Somali cleaners and Caribbean nurses. Everyone knows that Islamic terrorism is a real and continuing threat; and that there are extremist Islamic groups operating in the UK. So it is a particular duty of politicians to stay close to and publicly support mainstream Muslim leaders; and Blair is good at that.

    But the best defence against security politics in its ugly guise is to show that government works. The global market and modern terrorism have this in common: they challenge the relevance of the nation state. Rich political types may be able to lobby supranational bodies, or consider themselves citizens of Europe. But for most people, the nation state is all the democracy they have. Insecurity is caused by a sense of powerlessness; if the state seems powerless (as during the Weimar period), truly evil politics crawls out from under the stone.



    Of course the challenge is compounded in Australia because we have a Coalition government claiming the same economic credentials as Labor and an opposition leadership which (under Beasley as well as Crean) has fallen into the trap of security politics. At least, to nostalgists, Howard offers a security politics firmly grounded in their cultural fears.

    The only ways to overcome this natural advantage the Coalition enjoys is to craft an economic message that overcomes the cultural fears of Old Labor voters or to engage them with an inclusive cultural message. Labor needs a new leadership that can do that.

    Senate Resolution on Sexuality Discrimination

    That, in the opinion of the Senate, the following is a matter of urgency:

    The need for the Australian Government to acknowledge that on 6 August 2003, in the case of Young vs Australia, the United Nations Human Rights Committee found that:

    (i)the Australian Government's refusal to grant Mr Young a pension on the ground that he does not come within the definition of %u201Cdependant%u201D, for having been in a same-sex relationship, violates his rights under article 26 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights on the basis of his sexual orientation;

    (ii)the Australian Government provided no argument on how the distinction between same-sex partners and unmarried heterosexual partners is reasonable and objective, and no evidence which would point to the existence of factors justifying such a distinction was advanced;

    (iii)as a victim of a violation of article 26, Mr Young is entitled to an effective remedy, including the reconsideration of his pension application without discrimination based on his sex or sexual orientation, if necessary through an amendment of the law;

    (iv)the Australian Government is under an obligation, as a signatory to the First Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to ensure that similar violations of the Covenant do not occur in the future; and

    the need for the Australian Government to legislate for partnership recognition of same-sex couples under Commonwealth law.



    This passed 32/31. Tasmania has also passed a gay and lesbian law reform. The Howard government will, of couse, do nothing.

    Howard's rottweilers still biting at the heels of whistleblower

    As recently as Tuesday, in fact, John Howard evasively suggested: 'a remarkable similarity between the material that was the subject of Senator MacDonald's question and the material in the interview with Wilkie in The Bulletin [magazine interview] on 18 March.'

    The clear inference to be drawn was that Macdonald was informed only by what Wilkie had publicly said. But yesterday, Defence Minister Robert Hill finally admitted in Senate question time that Macdonald had been briefed on Wilkie's report. In effect, ONA material was used politically to try to discredit Wilkie.

    No doubt, if Wilkie himself had made use of the same material he would likely have felt the full force of the law. But the law appears not to fall equally on all.

    One of the Howard Government's most enthusiastic media barrackers, Melbourne Herald Sun commentator Andrew Bolt, seems to have the same secret ONA material. Forty-eight days ago, Bolt in a column bagged Wilkie, saying at one point, 'when I go through the only secret report that Wilkie ever wrote about Iraq . . .'

    If he is telling the truth, the Opposition notes, he is admitting to a breach of the Crimes Act.

    The Federal Police are slowly investigating, but the Prime Minister maintains ONA is not concerned because the Bolt column 'did not specifically quote any intelligence material'.

    The cynical might assume the Government has reason to want the leak investigation to fail.

    Meanwhile, they continue to slander Wilkie. 'Dishonourable, low, flagrant, outrageous, grandiose, incongruous, inconsistent and unreliable, very unstable, flaky and irrational' were just some of the words used by one government attack dog yesterday.

    All because a man followed his conscience.



    One can imagine what the Howard wolf pack would have to say if an opposition figure quoted classified material in an article critical of their master.

    10September,2003

    Asia Times | Terrorism and the battle of wits

    Have the intelligence and security agencies and the political leadership of the victim states learnt the right lessons during the first two years of the war against terrorism?To a limited extent, yes; to a large extent, no. The importance of an effective and performing intelligence setup has been recognized, but not much has been done to make it so. The even greater importance of an effective physical security setup, which will deny repeated successes to the terrorists, has also been recognized, but the followup has been poor. The political leadership in many countries, including India, continues to think that it can deal with jihadi terrorism through rhetoric and bravado alone.

    Four major terrorist successes with car bombs in Baghdad (3) and Najaf within a few weeks show how poor physical security is there despite the concentration of US troops and their ruthless methods of operations. How merrily the jihadi terrorists have been penetrating into one security establishment after another in J&K by just wearing army or police uniforms does not reflect well on India's physical security. In one instance at Akhnoor, they managed to kill a brigadier in his den, and almost succeeded in killing two lieutenants-general.

    If rhetoric and bravado alone can crush terrorism, there should have been no terrorism in India by now. No government in India has indulged in more rhetoric and bravado than the present one, but no government has paid as little attention to improving the nuts and bolts of counter-terrorism management as the present one. Intelligence and security agencies cannot be effective in dealing with terrorism unless there is a political consensus on the necessary nuts and bolts of the job. Such a consensus is all the more necessary since the country has been ruled by a coalition since 1996, and since different parties are in power at New Delhi and the victim-states, but no effort has been made either by the ruling coalition or the opposition to work towards such a consensus. As a result, counter-terrorism has been largely politicized.



    I take his point about rhetoric and bravado. As far as I know, no-one in the Indian leadership has bellowed 'Bring 'em on'.

    RE-OPENING OF INQUIRY INTO SECURITY OF INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY

    Parliament's Public Accounts and Audit Committee resolved today to reopen its inquiry into the integrity of electronic information held by the Commonwealth. This inquiry will now run in parallel with the Committee�s inquiry into Aviation Security.

    Public Accounts and Audit Committee Chairman, Mr Bob Charles MP said: "The security of confidential information on government computers is of ongoing concern for all Australians and critically so when it relates to aviation security.

    �The decision to reopen the inquiry has arisen from the Committee�s disappointment at learning about IT security breaches through the media, rather than from government officials who were giving evidence to the Committee.

    �On 4th September the Committee took evidence from the Australian Customs Service for the Aviation Security inquiry only to find out, on the following day, that there had been a major theft of IT equipment at a Customs facility adjacent to Sydney Airport.

    �At the same hearing, the Committee took evidence from the Department of Transport and Regional Services, only to hear the following week about a computer theft from one of their secure offices in Canberra.

    �The Committee will recall officials from both agencies and others so that its Members can receive full briefings on the incidents. The Committee will hold both public and confidential hearings to investigate the matters.

    �It becomes a matter of national importance when confidential security related information can be taken from supposedly secure locations.

    �As the Parliamentary Committee charged with responsibility for reporting to Parliament on the accountability of the public service and the Executive, we take these matters very seriously.�

    Issued by: House of Representatives Liaison & Projects Office, Wednesday 10 September 2003



    It's always embarrassing when you get mainframes stolen from your airport security centre. It's even more embarrassing when you forget to tell the parliamentary inquiry into avaiation security about the theft. I wonder if anyone's mentioned this to Messrs Bush and Hu?

    The Independent | Facts and figures on world trade:
    ... AND OF DISCRIMINATION
    The more value the poor try to add to their goods, the more the tariffs escalate. Raw cocoa beans can be imported to the EU and US without tax. But if the poor process it themselves into cocoa butter the rate in the EU goes up to more than 10 per cent. If they turn it into cocoa powder it is more than 15 per cent. If they turn it into chocolate it's more than 20 per cent. This explains why Germany processes more cocoa than Ivory Coast, the largest producer; and why Britain grinds more cocoa than Ghana. Developing countries produce 90 per cent of cocoa beans, but less than 5 per cent of chocolate.



    TRYING TO BREAK FREE
    Brazil estimates that it could earn $10bn more from agricultural exports this year were it not for trade barriers in the West. Lifting restrictions on Mozambique's imports into the EU would boost the country's earnings by almost $100m a year - nearly as much as it receives in European aid.

    SUBSIDISING THE RICH
    Rich governments now spend $1bn a day on subsidies to farmers - six times what they give in aid to poor countries. These subsidies generate large surpluses of sugar, cotton and other products, which are then dumped on world markets.



    This is known as free trade, at least according to the ministry of love types who decide trade policy in the First World.

    Doorstop Interview, Parliament House :
    PRIME MINISTER:

    Yes I am. I'm delighted that sometime in the next little time we'll have in Australia in fairly close proximity not only the President of the United States but also the President of China. It symbolises the diversity of Australia's relationships. It demonstrates that the closeness of our relationship with the United States in no way inhibits our close relationship with countries in Asia, in this case China. We are unapologetic about our relationship with the United States and the world knows that, but it doesn't alter the fact that we have a very close relationship with China and that is to our benefit and it's something that I've worked very hard to bring about.



    Thus is going to be interesting, to say the least. I predict heavy googling to determine if Hu Jintao shares George Bush's interest in rugby.

    9September,2003

    name of blog: Fair and Balanced:
    Remember the report last year that not-huge doses of ecstasy gave monkeys brain damage? Well, it turns out that there was a minor flaw in the study. Just a teensy one. They gave the monkeys speed, not pills.

    What a suprise. Anti-drug hysteria led to a completely stupid failure of science. Too be fair, it's really hard to test for ecstasy in a pill. It took me at least 15 seconds to enter the phrase 'MDMA test kit' into google to find a whole pile of vendors of kits - most are US$50 or less.



    My one reservation on the Carr-as-messiah push is that he has a long history of silly laws on drug matters. The actual facts about drug use have been well-known since 1894 when the Royal Commission into Hemp Drugs reported:

    and that the excessive use is comparatively exceptional. The moderate use produces practically no ill effects


    The fact that shonky science is still getting churned out a century later should tell us something about the quality of drug policy.

    LA Times | Iraq Estimates Were Too Low, U.S. Admits :
    Administration officials said President Bush's emergency spending request which would push the U.S. budget deficit above the half-trillion-dollar mark for the first time still left a reconstruction funding gap of as much as $55 billion.

    'It is fair to say that the level of decay and underinvestment in the Iraqi infrastructure was worse than almost anybody on the outside anticipated,' said one senior administration official. 'We were all surprised,' said another.

    The revised estimates underscored the political challenge facing the president, who asked Americans on Sunday evening to prepare themselves for a longer and costlier engagement in Iraq, and members of Congress, who are being asked to more than double the financial commitment of U.S. taxpayers.



    Was any Iraq estimate by the war party accurate or truthful?

    Macleans.ca | Top Stories | Essay | 9/11'S LEGACY: UNCERTAINTY:
    Two Septembers later, Bush has logged one indisputible victory: except for the anthrax attacks at the end of 2001, whatever they were about, terrorism has not killed one more American on American soil. Everything else is a Klondike of uncertainty. Afghanistan is no longer a coherent regime running interference for al-Qaeda murderers. This is excellent news. But it remains a very nasty neighbourhood.

    Iraq's liberators found enough mass graves to ensure Saddam Hussein a place in infamy. But no new weapons of mass destruction. And so much daily grief for the Americans that their president has become a fan of the United Nations again, if it will take some of the load off.

    Palestine? No progress. Liberia? A dilemma. Korea? Saddam's denials won him an invasion; Kim Jong Il denies nothing, brags about his nukes, wants more, threatens to use them. In some circles, this kind of behaviour is known as calling a bluff.

    Certainty about the world does not make the world more certain. The easiest road to moral clarity is a refusal to learn from complex events. For a few horrible hours two Septembers ago, nobody could claim to know anything. That uncertainy, at least, haunts us still. Or should.



    I really, really wish I had written the first sentence of that last paragraph.

    Guardian Unlimited Politics | Special Reports | This war on terrorism is bogus:
    All of this makes it all the more astonishing - on the war on terrorism perspective - that there was such slow reaction on September 11 itself. The first hijacking was suspected at not later than 8.20am, and the last hijacked aircraft crashed in Pennsylvania at 10.06am. Not a single fighter plane was scrambled to investigate from the US Andrews airforce base, just 10 miles from Washington DC, until after the third plane had hit the Pentagon at 9.38 am. Why not? There were standard FAA intercept procedures for hijacked aircraft before 9/11. Between September 2000 and June 2001 the US military launched fighter aircraft on 67 occasions to chase suspicious aircraft (AP, August 13 2002). It is a US legal requirement that once an aircraft has moved significantly off its flight plan, fighter planes are sent up to investigate.


    I read the entire article. While Meagher's facts are accurate, they do not warrant his conclusions. Conspiracies do happen, but they are subject to the same failings as any other human endeavour.

    Nothing in the Bush administration's reckless, feckless history of ego, cowardice and incompetence suggests that any explanation is needed beyond the usual - they blew it.

    Australian Financial Review - Flatlining Labor looks for jump start:
    Speculation about a move to federal politics by NSW Premier Bob Carr has brought an acknowledgement from Labor MPs that the party leadership remains a serious problem.

    Opposition Leader Simon Crean and NSW Labor powerbroker John Della Bosca yesterday sought to play down expectations of a move to Canberra by Mr Carr, who had floated a possible move to federal politics after 2007.

    But signs that the Carr story was an opening salvo in renewed leadership speculation were confirmed by reports of leaked polling showing Labor continuing to be in dire trouble in Queensland and at risk of losing all its seven seats in the state.

    NSW Senator George Campbell said the Labor caucus might have to reconsider Mr Crean's leadership if the polls did not improve.

    'This continuing flatlining in the polls obviously is worrying to most members of the federal caucus,' Senator Campbell said.

    'At the end of the day if your polls are flatlining in the way they are, the party's got to have a look at what are the causes behind that and obviously one of the issues that will be raised in that context will be leadership.'

    Labor backbencher Julia Irwin said federal Labor would perform better if Bob Carr was in federal parliament, and that Mr Carr should consider moving now, rather than after the 2007 NSW election.

    'Bob would help save the seats that we hold now and I know in my own heart of hearts, knowing the man the way he is, he would definitely win seats for Labor in NSW,' Ms Irwin told ABC radio.



    Sounds to me like things might be happening well before 2007. Labor needs to win the 2004 election, not the 2010 election.

















    Enough Rope | Helen Thomas: :
    Andrew Denton: You've described him as the worst president in all American history. Why?

    Helen Thomas: I did that off the record. But I suppose I should have added there's always room for improvement.

    LAUGHTER

    Helen Thomas: You did it off the record. Nonetheless it was your view. Why is that your view?

    Helen Thomas: Well, because I don't believe in war as as the first alternative. I think that everything should be done to avoid it. I don't believe that we should ever become a nation that pre-empts a war, that attacks a nation without... that has done nothing to us.

    And I think there are only two rules under the UN charter where you actually go to war in self-defence, which is you were attacked or you have a treaty with an ally and have agreed to come to the aid of this nation, another nation. But this is... For us to attack a nation that has done nothing to us and has been in a stranglehold for 12 years no, sorry, I'll bow out on that one.



    Go read the whole interview.

    Talking Points Memo: by Joshua Micah Marshall | It's everyone's fault but theirs.:
    'The terrorists', domestic enemies, cultural declension, the French, perhaps tomorrow the decline of reading, the end of corporal punishment in the schools, permissive parenting, bad posture, rock 'n roll, space aliens. The administration is choking on its own lies and evasions. And we have to bail them out because the ship of state is our ship.


    I once thought that Americans were weak at snark. I stand corrected.

    SBS - The World News | BOB CARR FOR PM?:
    After much speculation in media and political circles, the New South Wales Premier, Bob Carr, has finally admitted not only that he has federal aspirations, but when he is likely to act on those ambitions.

    Mr Carr is quoted in a new biography as saying he'd consider switching to federal politics after the 2007 state election.

    One of the book's co-authors, Andrew West, says Mr Carr's revelation to him in April was not accidental or off-the-cuff, but quite deliberate and was confirmed in June.

    Mr Carr is reported as saying he would like to serve as a minister in a Labor government.

    But Mr West says the federal Labor caucus is desperate, and wants to see Mr Carr in Canberra as soon as possible to help Labor win the next election.

    'The only practical help he can offer is the leadership. That's not my view, that is the view of a significant portion of the federal Labor caucus. They think that Bob Carr swanning down after the election, perhaps sailing into a seat in the Cabinet, is frankly a bit of an indulgence. They say 'help us with the heavy lifting, Bob, or don't come at all.'

    Federal Labor leader Simon Crean has told Sydney commercial radio that he is not surprised by the news.



    I have no idea what is going on here. Carr does nothing without a reason and this story was not released by accident. The one thing I do know is that the idea that Carr might enter federal politics in 2007 is too bizarre for words. Carr is now 55. 59 is just a tad old for a first run at federal parliament.

    I've thought for a while that Labor's best hope at the next election is neither Beasley nor Crean. The East Coast premiers all enjoy high popularity. Beattie, however, has troubles with One Nation and Bracks is relatively new to the job. Carr enjoys national recognition and could give Howard a run for his money. IN 2004, not 2007.